“We continue to assess that Iran’s overarching strategic goal of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals, and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. At the same time, Iran’s perceived need for economic relief has led it to make concessions on its nuclear program through the 24 November 2013 Joint Plan of Action with the P5+1 countries and the European Union (EU). In this context, we judge that Iran is trying to balance conflicting objectives. It wants to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities while avoiding severe repercussions – such as a military strike or regime-threatening sanctions. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.
Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas – including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles – from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.
Of particular note, Iran has made progress during the past year by installing additional centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant, developing advanced centrifuge design, and stockpiling more low-enriched uranium hexafluoride (LEUF6). These developments have better positioned Iran to to produce weapons-grade uranium (WGU) using its declared facilities and uranium stockpiles, if it chooses to do so. Despite this progress, we assess that Iran would not be able to divert safeguarded material and produce enough WGU for a weapon before such activity would be discovered. Iran has also continued to work toward starting up the IR-40 Heavy Water Research Reactor near Arak.
We judge that Iran would choose a ballistic missile as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if Iran ever builds these weapons. Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles – along with its desire to deter the United States and its allies – provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
We assess that if Iran fully implements the Joint Plan, it will temporarily halt the expansion of its enrichment program, eliminate its production and stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium in a form suitable for further enrichment, and provide additional transparency into its existing and planned nuclear facilities. This transparency would provide earlier warning of a breakout using these facilities.”
File photo: Isfahan Conversion Plant (AFP)